Georgetown students will enjoy an extra two days of rest during the next academic year because of a scheduling phenomenon that occurs once every seven years.

The 2015 winter break will last a total of 21 days, up from the 19-day break that students received following the fall 2014 semester. The number of days in the spring semester, however, will remain unchanged.

The fall 2015 semester will begin Sept. 2 and conclude Dec. 22 and the spring 2016 semester will commence Jan. 13 and end May 9.

Classes at Georgetown are required by the Registrar Office’s policy to begin the Wednesday before Labor Day and conclude the week prior to Commencement Weekend, which ends the week before Memorial Day. But unlike 2014 when Labor Day fell on Sept. 1, the earliest possible day, it falls on Sept. 7 during the next academic year, the latest possible day.

University Registrar John Q. Pierce said that this shortening of the fall semester has precedent. When planning the academic calendar, he looks back over the past 25 years to see which of the years most closely align to the upcoming year. Using the old calendar as a starting point, Pierce designs the new calendar, scheduling for three-day weekends, an add/drop period and holidays while attempting to keep the number of class days per semester constant.

“The draft is constructed based on the previous-like years when the dates for Memorial Day and Labor Day were the same as in the year that we’re trying to plan for,” Pierce said. “We apply the same template for the new year.”

Pierce said that although the schedule looks significantly altered, it follows specific protocol that keep the number of in-class days constant.

“[Our] starting point is attempting to maintain continuity from year to year so that there are no surprises for people,” Pierce said. “What appears to be a change is simply following the standard formula for calendars.”

The Registrar’s Office plans each calendar two years ahead so that students, faculty and staff may have them as early as possible. Pierce said that while no major changes are occurring the next academic year or the year after, there have been talks in the past of changing the template slightly.

“There was a discussion about starting school after Labor Day instead of before Labor Day,” Pierce said.
The last major change to the template occurred ten years ago when the decision was made to move graduation from Memorial Day weekend to the weekend before it.

“For a variety of reasons, people thought that [graduation] should be the weekend before Memorial Day,” Pierce said. “That required redoing the start of the spring [semester].”
Students appear happy with the calendar shift next year, but many said they still want to see longer breaks.

“I would love to have a longer winter break or a longer Thanksgiving,” Brittany Logan (MSB ’18) said. “My friends at home have more time off.”

This academic year, Georgetown had a shorter winter break, at 19 days, than many of its peer institutions such as Yale University (20 days), Boston College (21 days), Stanford University (23 days) and the University of California, Berkeley (24 days).

Melissa Lou Martin (COL ’16) said that the two extra days over winter break will help students relax more after a stressful examination period.

“I think there needs to be a healthy middle ground,” Martin said. “My break in high school was way too short, but some of my friends at state schools have way too long of a break. I would go crazy. I think the registrar is on the right track — we need to have the chance to decompress and get a break from Georgetown without it being too long.”

One Comment

  1. UC Berkeley, not Berkley

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